Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
It takes years of diligence to break into international Test cricket. A lot of players sweat on the field giving their precious years to first-class cricket to get picked up by the selectors for their national sides. However, there are some extraordinary players who succeeded in attracting attention with their talent and made their international debuts during their teenage years.
Naseem Shah grabbed a lot of eyeballs in 2019 when he made his Test debut for Pakistan against Australia in Brisbane at the age of 16 years 279 days. In June 2018, Afghanistan played their maiden Test match against India in Bangalore and Mujeeb Ur Rahman also created history by becoming the youngest Test player for his country at the age of 17 years 78 days to mark his debut. Along with these two notable names, there are many players who hit the headlines for beginning their journey in international cricket at an early age. Talking more-
Here are the five youngest Test debutants
5. Sachin Tendulkar- 16 years 205 days
Sachin Tendulkar served India for 24 years from 1989 to 2013 and following his sensational cricketing career, he ended up as the greatest batter of the sport, scoring 34357 runs across all formats in 664 international games. In Tests, he is still the highest-run scorer of all time with 15921 runs in 200 outings.
Back in 1989, when India toured Pakistan for four Tests and four One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Tendulkar got a chance to make his international debut in the first Test against the arch-rivals in Karachi Test. With his maiden appearance, Tendulkar became the youngest player to represent India in cricket’s longest format as he was only 16 years and 205 days old.
In his first Test, the Master Blaster came out to bat at number six in the first innings and contributed 15 runs to India. The Test match eventually ended in a draw but the teen became the hot topic in the cricketing circles for serving India at the early age of 16.
4. Aaqib Javed- 16 years 189 days
Aaqib Javed got famous in 1989 for playing Test cricket for Pakistan at the age of 16 years and 189 days. Pakistan toured New Zealand in 1989 for three Tests and four ODIs and after the abandoned first Test, both teams reached Wellington to clash with each other in the second Test.
In Pakistan’s 11-member squad against the Kiwis in the second game, Aaqib was also included to bolster Pakistan’s pace attack along with Imran Khan and Saleem Jaffar. Playing his debut game, Javed failed to be impactful as he couldn’t scalp any wickets with the ball. The match concluded in a stalemate and following his flop show with the ball, Pakistan’s skipper Imran Khan dropped him from the team for the third Test.
Javed played international cricket for Pakistan till 1998 and during his stint, he became one of the greatest bowlers for his nation. The speedster appeared in 22 Tests, in which he bagged 54 wickets in 37 innings with the best bowling innings of 5/84 vs Sri Lanka at the Iqbal Stadium in 1995.
3. Mohammad Sharif- 15 years and 128 days
In November 2000, Bangladesh made its Test debut against India at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. After five months of the team’s maiden appearance in the longest form of the sport, one of its stalwarts entered the record books for becoming the third youngest cricketer to play Test cricket.
Bangladesh toured Zimbabwe in April 2001 for three ODIs and a couple of Tests. Following the whitewash in the ODI series, Bangladesh locked horns with the hosts in the first Test at Bulawayo. The match went to Zimbabwe by an innings and 32 runs but Mohammad Sharif, who was only 15 years and 128 days old, became the youngest Test cricketer for his country.
In the losing cause, Sharif could take only one wicket with his fast bowling. The pacer remained active for Bangladesh till 2007 and in his brief international career, he got a chance to play only 10 Tests for Bangladesh and took 14 wickets in 11 innings.
2. Mushtaq Mohammad- 15 years and 124 days
Mushtaq Mohammad, who captained Pakistan from 1976 to 1979, had an extraordinary career in Tests. In his fruitful 20-year Test career, Mushtaq became the only all-rounder to score a ton and grab a five-wicket haul in the same Test match twice. Mushtaq kicked off his Test career in 1959 during the West Indies tour of Pakistan in 1959.
In the third Test of the competition in Lahore, the 15-year and 124-day-old Mushtaq was inducted into Pakistan’s playing XI. With his maiden international outing, Mushtaq became the youngest player to represent any team in international cricket during those days.
Pakistan had taken an unassailable lead in the series with their victories in the first two Tests so the visitors were playing for pride in their final game. The Caribbeans won the last match by an innings and 156 runs. Mushtaq, who was playing his first international match, also got a bitter experience as he failed with both bat and ball.
1. Hasan Raza- 14 years and 227 days
Hasan Raza created history for Pakistan during Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan in 1996. Following the draw in the first Test, Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram did a couple of changes to extract results in his team’s favour in the second Test in Faisalabad. The legendary Pakistan player introduced Hasan Raza in the second Test, dropping Azam Khan from the playing XI.
Raza debuted against Zimbabwe in the second contest at the age of 14 years and 227 days and with this appearance, he became the youngest player to appear in Test cricket. Pakistan outplayed Zimbabwe in all departments of the game and emerged victorious by 10 wickets.
In his maiden Test match, Raza came to bat at number five in the first innings and contributed 27 runs to his team’s one-sided win. Raza called on his international career in 2005 and during these nine years, he represented his national side in only seven Tests, in which he scored only 235 runs with a couple of half-centuries in 10 innings.